Started out today with a “breakfast” with some of my fellow Exchange MVPs at Café Beignet’s. By 9AM it was already very hot and humid outside and by the end of the ~2 mile walk, I walked my bike with my friends instead of riding it, I was already wet with sweat. The OCS\Exchange MVP team lead had setup an all-day meeting with some of the members of the OCS\Exchange product team, thanks Robin for setting this up. The first “session” went over OCS “14” video interoperability, next was migration and co-existence; but I had to leave for booth duty at this point. This week I’m working the Exchange booth, specifically the Flexible & Scalable stand, for Microsoft at least once a day for two hours.
The questions from attendees were again very good and some were pretty complex today. Had multiple questions on CAS arrays, dual data center deployment, HA/DAG configs, and what’s new in 2010. After a couple of hours, which went by very quickly, my required time was up, but I ended up staying about 45mins over without realizing it. By now it as 1:15PM and I had missed lunch, but wanted to headed back to the special MVP sessions.
In the afternoon Exchange ActiveSync (EAS)/mobility, strategies around how to address competition (mainly gmail), and mail cloud services (BPOS, EDU On-Line, and even a bit of Hotmail) were covered. Microsoft has a very tough problem with mobility since they currently don’t have a certification program or even a published list of which features each mobile phone support. Vendor who license EAS can choose to implement any sub-set of the APIs supported and do so in different ways. So this makes it very hard for us, Exchange experts, to troubleshoot issues or for Microsoft to provide a consistent experience across mobile devices to Exchange. For Example, the iPhone 3.0 or earlier provide limited EAS support but don’t support one key feature, which is an HTTP redirect, currently. Once a client sets up a CAS server in front of their legacy (2003 or 2007) environment the iPhone will be unable to connect to Exchange. This oversight, by Apple, has delayed Exchange 2010 migration for at least two attendees I spoke to yesterday. It was mentioned that Apple might be fixing this issue in the iPhone 4.0 OS. This is just one key feature\command that wasn’t implemented in the EAS code by Apple, but there are dozens of others Apple and other vendors haven’t implemented too. Microsoft is aware of this issue and with Windows Phone 7 is looking to reduce these types of issues. The same type of problem exist for any application on Windows Mobile since there is no “standard” platform for I developer can depend upon. A WM hardware vendor can choose from different CPU, ram, and HW features. In comparison, an iPhone has pretty standard, with some differences between the 3.0, 3.0GS, and now 4.0 but for WM there are probably at least 30 or so current WM models being sold with well over a 100 being used still today.
The next session talked about the competitive marketplace around Exchange. Since these sessions were all under NDA I can’t got into details about what was said or covered but I can point you to http://whymicrosoft.com. There are multiple case studies there show why clients have migrated to Exchange or even come back to Exchange after trying Gmail. The biggest reason is end-user productivity, which is reduced when client use a gmail since it lack MANY of the features of Outlook\OWA\Exchange. Including the rich interoperability between Outlook, SharePoint, and Office.
Next Kevin Allison covered how Microsoft’s hosting offering, running on Exchange 2007 and 2010 are built out, load is distributed, and the environment is managed. Again this is under NDA but the scalability and flexibility of Exchange 2010 is VERY impressive. Note to hosters: Microsoft is not your competitor, Google is.
Once these sessions were over, a bit after 5PM, I was starving and invited some of my MVP buddies to dinner. Pat Richard and Paul Robichaux joined be at Coop’s for dinner, Paul is from the general area but hadn’t been to Coop’s before and Pat is from MI and was a bit fearful of trying the local cuisine. After dinner we headed to the Microsoft influencers\MVP party Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Microsoft provided drinks, food, and free access to the aquarium and its staff. I hadn’t been to the aquarium since before Katrina and didn’t notice anything different, they even still had the same white alligator. Took a few pictures and video and posted them to Facebook. Left this event about 9PM and went to go check out the Jam Sessions at the House of Blues.
The Jam Sessions are a standard evening event now at TechEd where Microsoft rents out a great venue, provides instruments (keyboard, drums, 2 x guitars, bass guitar, tambourines, and multiple mics. When I road by at 9ish there was a line outside, so I went back to the hotel and called Bethany to see how here day was. Around 11ish I went back to the HoB. While the singing wasn’t the best, the geeks on stage were good with their chosen instruments. Of course Microsoft provided free booze, or tickets for it, and this time they had plenty of Abita (Monday night and at the aquarium they only had Bud, Bud Light, and Heineken L ). I posted a few pictures on Facebook and was txting Bethany what was going on until about midnight. Here’s a brief list of songs I recall being played: Lyndard Skinner – Sweet Home Alabama & Freebird, AC\DC, Stephen Ray Vaughn, G&R – Sweet Child of Mine, Pink Floyd – Money, & Led Zeppelin – Whole Lot of Love. Left this event around 1ish and road my bike around the Quarter for a while.
Went by Frenchmen, which still had people crowded around and inside The Spotted Cat and several other places. There was still a band playing at BMC’s at 1:30AM and music coming from a few other places. If you’re a night own looking for a place to listen to music, people watch, or socialize Frenchmen St area is the place to go.